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Thread: Teeth Together

  1. #1
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Teeth Together

    Dogen and Gudo Wafu both advise one to hold their teeth together while sitting zazen (while the tongue is placed gently on the roof of the mouth, slightly behind the teeth). I have no problem with tongue placement, as I am *slightly* familiar in some Daoist practices, but the teeth placement causes me strain. I don't know if this is normal, or if it is because of some extensive orthodontic work I had when I was young, changing the interior alignment of my teeth, and also the size of my mouth! (It had to be expanded because my mouth was too small to house all of my teeth as they grew in. :lol

    So, anyway, it feels awkward for me to place my teeth even slightly together while sitting. It causes a lot of tension in my jaw. It also gives me the sensation of grinding my teeth together, along with not knowing whether these teachers meant that all the teeth come together, or just the front or back teeth...

    What does everyone do with their mouth?

    I know that it is not the most important aspect of zazen, but I am curious, and it is starting to distract me from actual practice!

    Edit: The most natural position my mouth falls into is having my entire tongue up against the roof of my mouth, causing a kind of vacuum seal once all the air is out of my mouth. My teeth are very close together, but they are not touching.

    I'm sure this will be regarded as a very nit-picky topic. :roll:

  2. #2

    Re: Teeth Together

    I keep my teeth together and tongue up against the top row.

    I think the main idea is to limit salivation so you don't have to swallow constantly while sitting. So maybe it doesn't really matter that much.

    If you want to be a stickler, maybe you could use a mouthguard to have your mouth closed comfortably?

  3. #3

    Re: Teeth Together

    Hi,

    Dogen was not an Orthodontist.

    There should be no strain! What it means, basically, is keep your mouth closed, teeth (basically) together without strain, and breathe through the nose (something I have trouble with because of allergies ... and I sometimes end up mouth breathing nonetheless.)

    The tongue on the roof of the mouth behind the teeth has a practical purpose ... for it blocks the salivary glands and prevents constant saliva flow/swallowing.

    Gassho, J

  4. #4

    Re: Teeth Together

    Ha - By sheer coincidence I was thinking about this very subject while sitting tonight. I recalled Dogen’s teeth touching guidance and tried for a while until finally coming to the conclusion; ‘Sorry Dogen, this just don’t feel right, I will follow my instinct on this one”.
    Cheers
    m

  5. #5
    Senior Member Shujin's Avatar
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    Re: Teeth Together

    I have trouble with clenching my jaw & such during other times, and I've found that I can't accomplish keeping the teeth together without tension. My methods are in line with Amelia & Michael. Maybe I'll give it another go on the teeth touching... or maybe not.

    gassho,
    Shujin

  6. #6
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Re: Teeth Together

    The standard method is to keep teeth touching, well, I am very much like you guys, and I don't follow Dogen on that one because I am also prone to creating too much tension in the jaws. So...Do as you feel comfortable on that one!!!

    Taigu

  7. #7

    Re: Teeth Together

    I have just thought of an intriguing possibility. The Japanese have a rather distinct jaw structure. This in the modern age results in crowding of the teeth. A very famous Japanese model (??) modelled with natural uneven teeth resulting in ladies being comfortable with the problem for a decade or more. Recently this changed and orthodontists in Japan are making a killing. Maybe Dogen could maintain a relaxed jaw with teeth touching.
    m

  8. #8
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Teeth Together

    Is this why there is a similar 'smile' on the face of Tibetan tradition meditators? To keep the jaw relaxed?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Teeth Together

    Thank you all for your input. I will have to sit more and find my sweet spot on this one.

    Since we don't concentrate on anything in particular when practicing shikantaza, like the breath or dantien, I guess it isn't really worth worrying about whether or not my teeth are exactly as Dogen's would have been. Teeth placement =/= enlightenment.

    With my lackadaisical experience in some Taoist techniques (from back when I wanted to live forever :roll, I sometimes get hung up on technicalities-- like if I don't properly circulate my chi around my microcosmic orbit, yadda, yadda, I won't become an awesome super-master at life :roll: ... Being an anxious person, I can sometimes worry that not doing something in a textbook fashion will prevent me from reaching my goal.

    My rakusu is really helping me get over that. Somehow I am learning to be technical without caring about being technical... :shock: Thank you, Taigu. _/_

    Gassho,

    Amelia

  10. #10

    Re: Teeth Together

    I am not an orthodontist (although I could use one myself), but I always thought that Dogen is shown with an unusual protruding jawline in his portraits ...





    This is another case for the Lute String: Keep one's mouth neither too slack nor too tight and strained ... then just forget about it!

    Gassho, J

  11. #11
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Re: Teeth Together

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    ...This is another case for the Lute String: Keep one's mouth neither too slack nor too tight and strained ... then just forget about it!

    Gassho, J
    _/_ Thanks for the simple reminder that I have somehow forgotten.

    Amelia

  12. #12
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Teeth Together

    Michael wrote:
    The Japanese have a rather distinct jaw structure. This in the modern age results in crowding of the teeth. A very famous Japanese model (??) modelled with natural uneven teeth resulting in ladies being comfortable with the problem for a decade or more
    The Japanese have a term for the cuteness of "crooked" teeth. As can be seen if you do a google image search under Yaeba
    Personally, I find yaeba to be very charming

    While on the subject.....
    Historically in Japan there is a custom of dying the teeth black, known as Ohaguro

    Just wait until the gothic kids see this! :shock: It could become quite the rage here is the states as well :lol:

    Gassho,
    John

  13. #13
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Teeth Together

    Looks to me as she has eaten to many servings of squid ink pasta :lol:

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